I recently attended the Customer Experience Management Africa Summit held in Cape Town, South Africa. Table Mountain was a beautiful background to what was a very interesting conference. I read through my notes and compiled a list of key themes that were present in the various keynotes and talks.

A client-centric view of the firm argues that the purpose of an organisation is to create a customer. Customer experience is defined as: “How customers perceive their interactions with your organisation”. It is these interactions that allow the firm to achieve its financial and operational goals. Proponents of a “Customer Experience” (CX) orientation to organisational performance argue that exemplary customer experience, embedded in authentic relationships, allow to firm to address the challenges of a world in which technology lowers the barrier of entry, enhances competitive pressures and provides customers with choice. The argument is made that we live in the “age of the customer” and successful organisations reflect this “reality”.

Customer experience requires specific leadership capabilities – Leaders need to inspire a passion for the customer and drive the CX agenda in the firm. The members of the organisation must be encouraged to work together in a more integrated fashion. Similarly, leaders should trust that the people at the “coal face” possess a unique insight into the customer and are able to deliver the CX strategy effectively.

Customer experience is strategic in nature – In other words, the “customer must be brought into the boardroom” and customer experience must be at the centre of strategic decision making.

The customer experience must reflect the brand promise – “What we say on the outside must be the same as how we do it on the inside”.

Organisational culture underpins CX – CX require shared values and beliefs. Are employees valued? Are employees empowered? Are diverse voices heard in the organisation? The external brand is enacted by the “internal brand”.

A customer experience DNA – A product that customers need/want, delivered by caring people, in a timeous fashion, and supported by effective customer resolution. The critical success factors are consistency and going beyond customer expectation during problem resolution episodes.

Emotions and perceptions – A CX orientation is about how clients perceive their interactions with the firm, irrespective of how activities are performed. Productivity drivers (efficiency and effectiveness) are organisational and internally focussed. The customer is the moderator between what organisations do and the final performance outcomes.

Customer experience is more than just metrics – Metrics serve a purpose but a complete understanding of customer experience cannot come from distilling it to a single number. It is important to understand the emotions and feelings that underpin the decisions that customers make. The challenge, however, is to find accurate/quantifiable measures of perceptions and emotions.

A coherent approach is required across the organisation – This implies that customer experience is not only the domain of customer-facing departments. It should be the “golden thread” that runs through everything the firm do. Thus, how does a CX strategy impact people, structure, process, culture and interactions?

Developing a customer orientation is a purposeful and directed activity – CX is purposefully designed by understanding the stages of the customer experience, touchpoints, interactions and customer outcomes. Other things that make CX work: central co-ordination and distributed ownership, specific initiatives and targets, measured accountability, goals and project deliverables.

Technology can enhance the customer experience – Customer experience is not CRM or a technology problem. However, rapid technological development does provide opportunities to strengthen CX. For example, real-time customer behavioural data analysis, sophisticated call centre technology integration, possibilities of social media to strengthen interaction, mobile solutions and others.


Whilst the points above do not explicitly link to business model innovation there are some parallels that can be drawn. Thus, from a business model perspective “customer experience” encompass the customer and value proposition elements in the business model design. I would suggest that the themes highlighted above inform the decisions that managers make when they conceptualise these two elements. The business model “activity system” is also implicated, specifically in ensuring that the firm can address customer needs and wants in a consistent and predictable manner.